Faux Tiles

When we built our house almost 20 years ago, I wanted to have a tile splash board behind the kitchen counters. The plan was to make my own hand painted tiles.

My friend Yvette was painting tiles and she showed me how to apply glazes onto unfired clay tiles. The tiles were fired in a kiln at the artisan tile business where she worked.

I made drawings and planned out a series of tiles that would create a panoramic landscape, decorated with animals and an occasional dish or basket of food. After a few test firings, I could see that the learning curve was too steep for me. The glazes were one color when you paint them and another when they are finished firing. The process was more involved than I had thought. The quality of my tests were not good and it would take a lot of practice to get the tiles to look the way I wanted.

Even though I really wanted to use ceramic tiles, I decided to make “faux tiles” instead. I ended up painting masonite with acrylic paint and coating it with polyurethane.

I had fun trying to make them look like tiles, adding blue borders, with space between each painted square. With a jig saw, I cut out openings for the electric outlets. When people see our kitchen, they see a row of tiles, not paint on masonite. The panel has held up well over the years and can be easily washed. I plan in making more for another area in the kitchen when we do some renovations.

19 thoughts on “Faux Tiles

  1. They remind me of theorem paintings. In my opinion, they are far nicer and more charming than tiles would have been. They have a “softness” about them I prefer over tiles.

    They certainly have held up wonderfully. I think these would be great marketed as real tiles, though…they are lovely! Really good job!

  2. Salley, these are so cute! What a lovely idea and a great solution! Painting tiles and getting them to be consistent is HARD!

    (Have you ever seen Sara Midda’s work? Your tiles remind me of her just a little bit. It’s probably the watercolor effect of your painting. She’s got two books: In and Out of the Garden, and Sketchbook of the South of France. If you haven’t seen them before, I guarantee you’ll find them charming.)

    Your work and hers share some similarities, though your styles are both unique.

    • Sheila,
      Thanks for mentioning Sara Midda’s work, which I love. Our paths almost crossed back when we were art students in the mid 70’s, as I was planning on going to study in London for my Junior year abroad, but transferred to RISD instead. My friends who did go, including ’09 Caldecott winner Beth Krommes, got to know her there. Lot’s of name dropping here, but of note worthy artists!

      • Oh be still my heart! What I wouldn’t give to have studied with you guys. Name dropping…LOL! It’s nice to remember you’re real people too – you got your start somewhere – it’s just that you kept working on developing your talent and didn’t let life sidetrack you! I’ve absolutely loved seeing your earlier work. It’s more encouraging than you know. It’s a bit intimidating to see your current work and not think that your artistry sprang fully formed like Athena popping out of Zeus’s head. 🙂

  3. I love your idea of making your own kitchen tiles and am tempted to try something similar. We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen (has not been done since 1961) and would love the look of folk art tiles. I wonder if I could manage such a project?! You have inspired me to think about it as I go along, and see what evolves in making our own kitchen be a very personal space. Thank you for sharing this wonderful idea in such a timely way. I love learning from other people and always value your thoughts and skills. Blessings to you and happy continued healing too. Ciao for now! 😉

  4. Wonderful, would love to do something similar. I was thinking that if you needed a really impervious finish (like behind a sink) the 2-part epoxy might do the trick. You can get it at Michaels, it’s easy to use.

  5. Thanks for sharing this idea of the masonite and acrylic paint. I am hoping to have some people come in to my Kitchen with bids for renovations. now I have something that I could add as my own to the design.
    Darlene

  6. I think these are so, so beautiful, and I am very inspired. I did mosaic for my backsplash in a kitchen when my children were tiny. It took me a few years because I was so busy! Then we had to move before I even got them up! Happy Mother’s Day! love, Beth

  7. You’ve done a fantastic job! I love your paintings – they are gorgeous and the animals make me smile. Beautiful!

  8. In browsing your past blogs, it was interesting to see where your interests took you…..Ojai houses, dolls, tiles, etc. It was a confirmation of why your work is such a draw to me. I love Ojai houses, collect dolls, took a tile painting class and made a mural for my brother with a design inspired by a Russian book illustrator (Biliban….can’t remember how it was spelled) but very much like something you would like). My interest in handwork goes back to the 70’s but after 17 years of elementary teaching with NO time to do handwork, it is exciting now to return to it. My early work was for my son….did 11 appliqued pictures from a Margot Austin illustrated Mother Goose book from when I was 2 and 13 needlepoint pillows, 2 outfits for him with bibs containing 2 more illustrations translated into embroidery. The book’s main illustrations were all incorporated. Your nursery rhyme books are adorable and take me back to those days of Mother Goose work.

  9. this is a wonderful idea! sometimes i think the ideas one comes up with to “make do” turn out to be far superior to the original ideas…i think these have so much charm and the drawings themselves are just dear.

  10. Salley these “tiles” are so beautiful and look just like tiles! I made some very simple stain glass windows for a small bathroom in our first little home and then painted some of the plain white tiles with the same simple design and used them for accent tiles! My husband loved it and we had to move from that home as our family grew, but the people that bought the home loved that bathroom! I love all your beautiful work!!
    Cynthia

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